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ZTEC's 90MHz digital scope plug-ins play in PCI, PXI

Posted: 29 Aug 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ztec instruments? digital storage scope? pcipxi? pci extensions for instrumentation? benchtop?

As it has done in the past, ZTEC will be making its newest PC-hosted digital storage scope plug-in available in both PCIPXI (PCI Extensions for Instrumentation) flavors. That flexibility should make them quite attractive to any number of instrument suite builders.

If you like using a PC for a programmable and highly customizable soft oscilloscope platform, instead of a dedicated conventional benchtop, or even portable scope, these new plug-and-play digitizers will appeal to you.

As mentioned in its press statement, these less-than-$5,000 3U-sized storage oscilloscope plug-ins will also use the company's proven so-called UIP (Universal Instrument Platform).

Multiple bus architectures

UIP is what lets ZTEC deploy common hardware across multiple bus architectures, with all of its instruments using the same hardware core. In addition, the modular architecture lends itself to high channel-count applications with tight signal sync. In fact, multiple plug-ins can be synchronized using the local timing and trigger bus.

A PLL (phase-locked loop) and star triggering provides tight sync where multi-instrument timing is key. Not mentioned is that ZTEC offers a ZT1000PXIoption ($2,195) for this ZT431 family. The ZT1000PXI gives you a better frequency standard, as well as control of PXI's star trigger and triggers. The improved triggering can let multiple PXI instruments be synchronized together.

What's more, if fitted with a GPS (Global Positioning System) ZT1000PXI-01 satellite receiver option ($3,195), the reference can synchronized even more tightly. Indeed, trigger events can be tagged to within 25ns (of Universal Coordinated Time) of when they occurred.

Single- or multi-channel

As for signal acquisition itself, a ZT431 can be used in either single-channel or multi-channel oscilloscope applications. With two channels, a ZT431 can give you simultaneous sampling at 100MS/s, or interleaved sampling at double that rate.

You also get a choice of DC or AC coupling, trigger input and output lines, and low VSWR (voltage standing-wave ratio) 50-ohm and 1-megaohm inputs.

Using repetitive-time sampling, you can sample at speeds as great as 5GS/s. You'll see DC to 90MHz of bandwidth, backed by up to 8MB of waveform memory (a standard unit ships with an already deep 4-Megs of memory).

That, plus the plug-in's memory segmenting, sequencing and triggering (edge, pulse-width or video), dish up some very powerful signal acquisition modes. With wide dynamic range and low noise, you could use a ZT431 for looking at and acquiring video, RF and other analog signals where fine resolution is needed, and they will work very much like benchtop scopes. You can adjust input range, as well coupling, sample rate and channel configuration. You'll acquire signals with 12-bit vertical resolution and a low phase-noise sampling clock.

The ADCs in these boards operate at 25KS/s to 100MS/s rates, in 1, 2.5 and 5 steps (200MS/s in the interleaved mode). Acquisition time is 500ns to 167.7s. The FS (full-scale) input ranges span 100mV (p-p) to 10V in eight ranges for low-Z inputs, and 500mV to 500V in eight steps for the low-Z inputs.

- Alex Mendelsohn


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